Tuesday, May 25, 2010

You're Killing Your Baby

I recently did a project with a "supersized" woman.  (Yeah, I know, not my favorite term either.) We got to talking about our kids, and of course pregnancy and birth experiences came up.  I was curious to see how she'd been treated.  The answer.....not well.  She gave me permission to share her experience here.

At the time of her first pregnancy, about 20 years ago (only 1990, folks, hardly the Dark Ages), she was much smaller.  She thinks she was a little over 200 lbs. at the time.  She was still treated like crap.

She spent a lot of time trying to eat really well in pregnancy, mostly salads and protein.  She had severe nausea which made eating anything difficult, but she was doing her very best.  But of course, no one believed that she could possibly be eating decently. 

She remembers one particular visit with her OB.  The OB told her, "You're killing your baby because you can't control your appetite." 

Now remember, she was already eating well, and her weight gain was within guidelines.  But this doc looked at her and made all kinds of assumptions about her habits (and what would happen), just based on her body alone.  And then proceeded to scare the crap out of her about her baby, based on her size alone. She left the appointment in tears and cried for days.

Post-note: She didn't switch OBs but she did start bringing her husband to appointments, who intimidated the OB away from further comments like that.  The baby from that pregnancy, contrary to predictions, is alive and well and was part of the project we collaborated on....a truly delightful girl. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Confessions of a Gardening Wimp

I wrote recently about being late starting my spring garden. I did manage to get in a bunch more tomatoes this week, along with a few more seeds and some broccoli.  Now I need your wisdom, dear readers.

This year I'd really like to learn how to can and preserve some of my harvest. Problem is, I'm terribly intimidated by the mere thought of it and could use some virtual hand-holding.

I do already preserve a lot of what I grow by freezing (my homemade freezer applesauce is to die for; gave a bunch to my kids' teachers this year and got rave reviews ::preen::).

However, I'd really like to expand into canning as well, so the harvest can be preserved without having to use up all that electricity for freezer space or being so dependent upon continuous power, you know?  It's good emergency preparedness, it's thrifty and sensible....and it just tastes good.

I have a confession to make, though. It's incredibly silly, but I am so intimidated by the whole process.....I have no idea why. Just seems so complicated, eh? And I'm terrified that if I do something wrong, I may poison my family. I know, I know, an overexaggerated fear....but I can't get it out of my mind. Plus I am just not that domestically inclined, so these kinds of home arts are just not something that fit very comfortably in my skin or psyche.

I did buy a book on canning and preserving, but honestly, it just seems too complex and intimidating to learn from a book alone. I am better at learning by doing. The book will be a great resource for me once I've learned the basics, and it will provide much troubleshooting advice for when I run into questions.  But to learn the basics from it?  I'd rather learn it first-hand from someone in person.

I have no family experience to draw upon for canning; my mother did do some limited gardening but I don't remember her ever doing any canning. My mother-in-law, despite growing up on a farm, says they never did any canning either. I do have a friend who says she'll come over and teach me in exchange for some of our grapes to make wine with, but honestly that's not the way I'd rather learn it. It's my back-up plan if needed, but it's not my first choice.

My hope is that I will find a local class on canning and preserving this summer. I need it to be short and sweet, not weeks and weeks, as my schedule is not conducive to going to a class for weeks on end---too many other commitments. But I often find that if I'm afraid of something, taking a class on it is just the ticket to helping me through that fear and being able to venture out to try it on my own.

I don't know why I prefer a class to learning it from a friend; I think it's because I'd rather my failures be in an anonymous setting rather than looking like an idiot in front of a friend. (How neurotic is that?) And it just seems too invasive to have someone come over into my personal space to teach me; I'd rather learn it in a neutral setting. Whatever the reason, I know I'd rather learn it from a class than from a friend, so I'm going to look around and see what I find. Any ideas on the best places to look for such a class?

My other question for you readers who are experienced at this: What canning equipment do you find absolutely essential and what do you not find as essential? I have the proper jars and funnels already from my freezer applesauce etc. experiments; I'm talking about the actual pots and things. If you have brand recommendations too, I'd love to hear them before going out and guessing at buying what I need. Just seems like there's a lot of "stuff" you are supposed to buy and I'm wondering just how much of it is really essential, and if so, which types/brands are the best to get.

Finally, if anyone wants to be my garden/preserving doula and hold my hand to reassure me that I really can learn to do this and it's really not that hard, I'm all ears! I don't have any idea why this is so intimidating to me, but it is. Any encouragement or gentle advice would be warmly welcomed.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

spring gardening woes

I got a late start on my garden this year.

Actually, I got an early start on my garden this year and put in many of my seeds too early, only to have a resurgence of cold weather torpedo many of the plants.  And then we got sick with a hell of a virus that knocked us all out for many weeks, so weeding and getting my garden started again was the very last of my priorities.  We're only just now getting around to a lot of it and are paying the price.

My peas did manage to survive the cold snap, as peas usually do.  My garlic experiment from last fall is looking very good, and I have chives coming out my ears. We also had some broccoli and spinach overwinter this year, so we've had quite a few veggies from that.  That was a nice surprise.

But my carrots have been a total dud this year so far; I just planted some more seeds this week so I'm crossing my fingers those will finally take off....but no early carrots for me this year.  Most of the onions I planted also were duds so I'll have to restart those too.  And my poor blueberries are almost completely overgrown with some extra-hellacious weeds.....ugh.  Not sure I"ll be able to save them. 

I did manage to squeeze in time to plan some green beans a few weeks ago and those are up now and looking okay. I also have some lettuce and new spinach taking off just fine. I got a few cuke seedlings in last week and planted a few more seeds this week.  I also put in some more raspberries recently and plan a few more as I have time.  And of course, I have all my existing fruit trees percolating away.....yummmm.

I have some Seascape strawberries on order and will get those in as soon as they arrive.  Can't wait for those!  They are everbearers so I'll be able to harvest strawberries from them all summer long.  YUMMM.

Also have some asparagus coming; it's a little late to plant them but I hope it will work out anyhow.  I love fresh asparagus and it's one of the few veggies my littlest will eat on a regular basis, so I have high hopes for it in future years. Gotta love a veggie you don't have to replant every year!

Got some tomotoes started in the raised beds this week but need to go get more.  I want to experiment with some different types of tomatoes this year; I tried some little orange tomatoes last year and we loved them so I am determined to see what other jewels are out there beyond the ones we usually plant.  I got hooked on my homemade spaghetti sauce experiment last year and am determined to make more this year.  I think a wide variety of tomatoes in the sauce make it more flavorful.

The next few weeks before the end of school are so incredibly busy that I don't know how I'm going to get the rest of the garden in.  Thank goodness for teenaged slave labor to help with some of the weeding.  The rest of it I'll just try to shoehorn in between other commitments. In raised beds the work is really not very hard, it just takes a certain amount of time and I'm not good at squeezing that in, especially when life gets really busy.  But if I want the yummies later this summer, I gotta do the work for it ASAP, so I'm just going to have to suck it up and find the time. 

How are your gardens going so far this year?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to everyone! 

Life is extremely busy; I am behind on a number of projects (including some long-planned posts for this blog), and am running a bit short on family time.  So I am taking the easy way out today in order to get some more time with my beautiful family. 

Here is a lovely piece of art in  honor of well-rounded mamas everywhere.

Title: Maternal Kiss, 1896
Artist: Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1845–1926)
SourceWikimedia, here